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tv   PBS News Hour  PBS  September 7, 2011 6:00pm-7:00pm EDT

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captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> ifill: president obama's plan to spur job growth will have a $300 billion price tag-- that's one of the details that has emerged ahead of tomorrow night's address. good evening, i'm gwen ifill. >> woodruff: and i'm judy woodruff. on the "newshour" tonight, we look at the atmosphere and reaction in washington and preview tonight's g.o.p. presidential debate with political editor david chalian. >> ifill: then, ray suarez updates the battle to contain the texas wildfires that have taken four lives and destroyed more than 1,000 homes. >> woodruff: our coverage of the tenth anniversary of 9-11 continues with a report from n.p.r.'s daniel zwerdling
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about an effort to spot terrorists in an unlikely place, one of the nation's biggest shopping centers. >> i think our name, first of all, mall of america, is attractive to people that want to hurt america. unfortunately the world has changed, and we're doing the best we can to keep this building safe. >> ifill: and we ask white house counter terrorism chief john brennan about balancing national security and civil liberty in a post-9/11 world. >> we need do our job the best that we can, but we have to make sure we recognize the limits of the law and also that american citizens and persons have these rights and liberties that we need to respect. >> woodruff: plus, jeffrey brown has the story of a recently discovered exploding star, a supernova visible to the naked eye. >> ifill: that's all ahead on tonight's "newshour." major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by:
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>> i mean, where would we be without small businesses? >> we need small businesses. >> they're the ones that help drive growth. >> like electricians, mechanics, carpenters. >> they strengthen our communities. >> every year, chevron spends billions with small businesses. that goes right to the heart of local communities, providing jobs, keeping people at work. they depend on us. >> the economy depends on them. >> and we depend on them. and by the alfred p. sloan foundation. supporting science, technology, and improved economic performance and financial literacy in the 21st century. and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations. and... this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you.
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>> ifill: president obama addresses congress and the nation tomorrow night, hoping to reinvigorate his economic policy and his public standing. today, there was already talk of what's in his plan. "newshour" congressional correspondent kwame holman has that story. >> reporter: as the president and his white house team put the final touches on his jobs plan, details began trickling out today. the price tag was widely estimated to be $300 billion, in tax cuts and spending initiatives. the two largest components would be a one-year extension of the payroll tax cut for workers and an extension of unemployment/jobless benefits, together totaling about $170 billion. the plan would seek higher tax revenues in later years to offset the cost of those short- term measures. there also could be a tax credit
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for businesses that hire the unemployed and new public works spending. white house spokesman jay carney would not confirm the cost or the details, but he insisted the president will show he's doing his part. >> you will see in the proposals that the president puts forward that he is very serious about taking measures that are responsible, that have enjoyed bipartisan support and are the kinds that have direct and quick impact on the economy and on jobs. but you all will be able to judge whether or not the kinds of things the president is proposing, which all will be paid for are the right answers and are the kinds of things that, if congress were serious about taking action, congress would act on. >> reporter: congress will hear the details from mr. obama tomorrow night, in a nationally televised joint session. white house officials made clear today they hope to win republican support for tax cuts, but already, there are questions about the plan's prospects. republican leaders in the house
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and senate have signaled opposition to new spending. senate minority leader mitch mcconnell made that point today. >> i think what we'll hear tomorrow night is some additional spending items recommended by the president, the only thing i would say with regard to that: if government spending were the answer, we'd be in the middle of a boom right now. we certainly intend to listen politely to the recommendations the president has, but i think i can pretty confidently say what everybody in the republican conference in the senate thinks: we need to quit doing what we're doing. >> reporter: on the democratic side, senate majority whip dick durbin warned that if republicans oppose the president's ideas, they'll have a hard time explaining why. >> it is interesting to me, the president will propose to extend the payroll tax cut for working families across america, it accounts for 2% of income, that to me is sensible. the criticism from the republican side of the aisle is, no, you shouldn't allow a tax cut for middle and lower income
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families and those in lower income categories unless you pay for it. interestingly enough, that's exactly the opposite position from what they took when they were talking about tax cuts for the wealthiest americans. >> reporter: just the same, several republicans said they will skip the speech altogether, and party leaders decided not to give an official televised response. >> woodruff: still to come on the "newshour": the g.o.p. faceoff later tonight at the reagan library; the wildfires raging in texas; the lookout for terrorists in a mall; the nation's counter terrorism chief and an up-close look at an exploding star. but first, the other news of the day. here's hari sreenivasan. >> sreenivasan: wall street shot back up today after reassuring news from europe. a german court upheld germany's role in bailing out other countries and investors reacted with a buying binge. on wall street, the dow jones industrial average gained nearly 276 points to close at 11,414. the nasdaq rose 75 points to close near 2,549.
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benchmark stock indexes across europe were sharply higher as well, in the wake of the news from germany. the country's high court rejected challenges to using taxpayer money for an emergency rescue fund. at the same time, it warned the decision was not a blank check for future bailouts. but chancellor angela merkel said the court absolutely confirmed her government's policies and its commitment to the 17-nation euro system. >> ( translated ): the euro is a guarantor of a united europe or, to put it another way: if the euro collapses, europe collapses. and, because the europe of freedom and democracy is our motherland, the euro cannot and will not fail. >> sreenivasan: also today, the government of italian premier silvio berlusconi survived a no- confidence vote, and it won approval of austerity measures in the upper house of parliament. and in france, the national assembly endorsed key budget changes to save money and support the bailout of greece. at least 43 people died today
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when a russian passenger jet crashed shortly after takeoff. the plane went down after leaving an airport near yaroslavl, 150 miles northeast of moscow. only two people survived. we have a report narrated by nina nannar of "independent television news." >> reporter: all that remains is burning on the banks of the volga river. the aircraft, a yak 42 which was carrying one of russia's champion ice hockey teams had barely taken off the from yaroslavl northeast of moscow when it started listing and crashed, killing nearly everyone on board. "the plane was taking off and there was some noise" said this witness. "then it fell down and there was a cloud of smoke and another explosion and the plane broke in two parts. locomotive yaroslavl here have won russia's league three times. amongst the international lineup there are olympic gold medalists. the team was en route to minsk
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for the start of the new season. only one member of the team on board has survived. in a country which is passionate about the sport, news of the crash brought this match elsewhere to a halt. many in the crowd clearly stunned. russia already has a poor air safety record. this is the second plane crash in just three months. the last one killed 47. the country's aging soviet-built planes are being taken out of service from next year. for now, rescue workers are combing the waters for bodies and the country is dealing with the loss of some of its most adored sports stars. >> sreenivasan: there was no immediate word on what caused the crash. the weather was sunny and clear at the time. twin suicide bombings in southwest pakistan today killed at least 22 people. the target was the home of a top army officer in quetta. the first attacker detonated a car bomb near the house. the second stormed the place and once inside, blew himself up. more than 80 people were wounded. the taliban claimed responsibility.
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in india, a bomb exploded outside the high court building in new delhi, killing at least 11 people. police quickly cordoned off the area, and emergency crews tended to the 76 wounded. the attack was the worst in the indian capital in nearly three years and prime minister manmohan singh condemned it. >> this is a cowardly act of a terrorist nature. we will deal with it. we will never succumb to pressure of terrorism and this is a long war in which all political parties, all the people of india, have to stand united so that the scourge of terrorism is crushed. >> sreenivasan: a group linked to al-qaeda claimed responsibility, and indian police began scouring the city for two suspects. security forces in syria blasted the city of homs today, and activists reported at least 11 people were killed. amateur video showed deserted streets as residents stayed indoors. a barrage of gunfire from troops
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and tanks echoed in the background. a network of protest groups claimed some army units in homs had defected and were battling pro-government troops. top officials across the obama administration are now denying they've decided to keep 3,000 u.s. troops in iraq next year to train iraqi forces. leaders at the pentagon and the start department insisted today that no decision has been made. any such plan would violate president obama's promise to withdraw all forces from iraq by the end of this year. and, the iraqis would have to agree to let the troops stay longer. those are some of the day's major stories. now, back to gwen. >> ifill: before the president presents his policy prescriptions tomorrow night, eight republicans seeking to replace him get their turn tonight. the setting will be a debate staged at the reagan presidential library in simi valley, california. for a preview of tonight's faceoff, we turn to "newshour" political editor david chalian. david, we're looking at eight people on the stage but we're really only paying attention tonight to two.
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>> that's right, mitt romney who was the front-runner and is no longer and rick perry, the governor of texas, who now is the front-runner in this race, has only been in this race for about three and a half weeks, gwen. and the race is shaping up into this two-man race. even michele bachmann's former campaign manager said as such. he's no longer the campaign manager after saying that. but it is true that this dynamic i am so fascinated to watch how romney responds to rick perry as a new front-runner because mitt romney is in a very new role tonight. >> ifill: yeah, because mitt romney has been the front-runner until this week's clutch of poll which is show rick perry vaunting over him. so what does he do with that different role? >> well, the way he had been handling it was to play sort of that rogue strategy that a front-runner likes to play. stay above the fray. he's been keeping his focus very much on president obama, not really engaging his republican opponents so much. that's not going to work anymore. this is an opportunity tonight for nirpl start contrasting himself with rick perry. but you have to remember, rick perry is still not wildly known.
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i know he's been governor of one of our largest states in texas for ten years, but there's still a lot of people across the country who don't yet know him. so while rick perry is going to be trying to introduce himself to a larger public, he's got mitt romney and six others on the stage who are going to be throwing their slings and arrows all towards him because he's the one wearing the big target. >> ifill: have we seen enough studies like this that we know kind of debater rick perry would be? we know what kind of stump speaker he is but this is a different situation. >> we know he's an aggressive conditioned date, whether in previous debates during his texas gubernatorial campaigns or as you said, out on the stump. this is not somebody who shies away from a punch. his campaign yesterday when mitt romney delivered his jobs plan in nevada issued a very aggressive statement cutting down the plan. so i don't think this is somebody who's going to shy away from drawing contrast with his other opponents. his campaign, of course, is try log lower expectations, that's the name of the game for these
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debates and they're trying to say "he hasn't had so many debates, he's been in a big national debate like this," but this guy has been governor of texas and knows what this kind of forum is like. >> ifill: you mentioned mitt romney's economic speech yesterday. jon huntsman gave one last week and we're expecting the president's tomorrow. are we expecting to hear any of that topic tonight? is that going to be the main top snick >> there's no doubt all of the candidates on the stage tonight are aware that the president's speech the is tomorrow night and see this as an opportunity to call on the president to enact policies that, of course, the president's not interested in enacting. this is a republican debate. i do think that we're not going to see reason deliver tonight on the debate stage his economic plan. the he is brand new to the race, he has not been speaking in specifics at all on the campaign trail. it's been much more sort of broad philosophical differences he has with the president. so i don't think you should expect to see that you can contrast everything said tonight with the president's plan tomorrow night but i do think you're going do see some candidates try to,... for
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instance, jon huntsman. he is going to draw out a more moderate position here. reach out to the independent voters, show why he could go toe to toe... why he thinks he can go toe to toe with barack obama in a general election. >> ifill: it wasn't that long ago that michele bachmann had her big breakout moment when she announced from the stage of a debate that she was in the race. then she went on to win the iowa straw poll. now this week's poll shows her pulling up a distant third. what does she to do tonight? >> not just a distant third, gwen. her support has been cut in half. in july she was at 16%, she's at 8% now. all of that support fled to rick perry. she's in real trouble because she has to find a way to reignite that tea party support she had. all those tea party supporters have gone the way of rick perry. she needs to prove relevance tonight is what her mission is. fill frill there non-team voters who any of them are trying to get tonight. they're all fighting over the same poll of voters, a little pool of voters when it comes to the most conservative members of the republican party, but what about everybody else?
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>> that's a fantastic question and it comes down to general election viability and electability. this is the one number in the recent polls that i think has mitt romney most concerned. abc news/"washington post" poll when asked among republican voters who do you think has the best chance to beat barack obama in november 2012, 30% of them say rick perry now. 20% say mitt romney. that is the number that mitt romney needs to change. his deal tonight, his task ahead of him is to try to talk to a broad swath of republican voters not just the tea party, to say that he's the most electable come november, 2012. >> ifill: and the reason me needs to do that is because the president looks truly vulnerable toll this group. so we've mean? past debates in which they all agree that obama has to go. do they start... will they be taking shots at each other instead and leave the president to go above the fray? >> i don't think the president ever gets to be above the fray in a republican debate. i think that especially one sitting at 38%, 39%, 40% in the polls he's an easy target.
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that's partisan red meat they need to dangle out there to their most part sart supporters. but we're in a post-labor day phase now, it's a higher level of engagement, there is a new front-runner in the race and we're going see each of these republican candidates start differentiating on their records on their past statements and not just hitting the president. >> ifill: david chalian, i know what you'll be doing tonight, i'll be doing it, too. see you later. >> okay. >> woodruff: now, the latest on the wildfires in texas. it's part of the worst fire season in state history. more than 1,000 homes have burned in just a week and four lives have been lost. ray suarez has the story. >> suarez: hard-pressed fire crews in texas finally seemed to catch a break today. in the last week, they've battled more than 170 fires, fed by drought and whipped by winds from tropical storm lee.
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the largest was the bastrop fire southeast of austin-- 24 miles long and 20 miles wide. but the wind has finally died back some, and bastrop county's emergency coordinator mike fisher said today the big blaze is now 30% contained. >> we're making pretty good progress around perimeter. we're hoping that by the end of shift today that we can say we're comfortable fire won't get any larger. >> suarez: in all, fires have spread across much of eastern texas in recent weeks, scorching about 3.5 million acres-- an area the size of connecticut. firefighters have managed to come near containing many of them. and improving conditions mean crews can set backburns to rob the flames of fuel and stop them from spreading. but the damage is done. the bastrop fire has already devoured nearly 800 homes out of more than 1,000 lost across the
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state. one belonged to charles billingsly. >> it was just ashes. it's almost like every other home. it was just like the winds were erratic. >> suarez: and while some residents know what's happened to their homes, others, like mitzi carrara, were among 5,000 evacuees still waiting for news. >> it's tough to think about what we're going to see and if we see anything. is it going to be from the news we've seen. you know it could be just a foundation with a bunch of debris over it. >> suarez: even with progress on containing many of the fires, tinder-dry texas is not out of the woods yet. the state forest service says it responded to 19 new fires just today. we get more on the fires now from kate galbraith, a reporter for the "texas tribune" in austin, texas. well, kate, you've been in the area that's burning. give us a sense of what it's like to smell it, to see it, to
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feel it on your skin. >> that's right. well, i drove down earlier this week and, you know, driving into bastrop was just like driving into a volcano. i mean, huge amounts of billowing smoke. and the governor at a press conference on monday, governor perry, said that it was... he'd seen a lot of wildfires but it was about the meanest looking he'd ever seen. and, indeed, we have been experiencing some smoke here in austin this morning from some of the fires in the area, very smokey air. >> suarez: what are these landscapes like? it's kind of hard to know from television exactly what kind of land we're talking about. 34,000 acres sounds like an awful lot of area. is it heavily woodd? is it farm sfland is it residential areas? what's on fire? >> well, one of the areas that's substantially burnd is bastrop state park, which is an unusual area in central texas. it's a lot of pine trees which have been very, very dry. we're in 11 months into the
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worst one-year drought in state history. and a lot of people want to live near that beautiful area, so they've... the area's expanded. bastrop county in recent decades and so they've moved into maybe rural subdivisions close to nature, cleese to the beauty and that's what's gone up. >> suarez: so there are homes amidst areas where there's plenty to burn. i heard on a briefing earlier today the elected officials and appointed officials in bastrop county dealing a lot with homeowners. are there a lot of people to get out of the way? >> well, they've said 500... the county judge said this afternoon 576 homes are known to have been burned and he said that number might double. so it's a very fluid situation. a lot of people are looking for information. they're really not letting folks back because as you said, this fire is 30% contained. >> suarez: have people been complying with the orders to evac sfwhat have they been cooperating with law
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enforcement? >> i would think for the most part. i mean, the state officials are from governor perry on down have very much emphasized obey evacuation orders, do not cross barricades. that message has been very clear. but it's obviously a difficult time for a lot of people and state officials are also emphasizing, don't throw a lighted cigarette butt away and take other fire precautions. because it's a very serious situation not only here but around the state. >> suarez: well, it sounds like even as firefighters sort of get this big fire under control new ones are starting all the time? >> well, there have been a number of fires right around austin and, as you said, 19 started in a day. and this is the... not the beginning for texas. we're... we've been seeing fires since early spring because of this horrendous drought we're having and the state climatologist told me this afternoon that it seems likelier than ever that la nina, which is
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the cause of this drought, might come back soon. and so we'll continue to be dry for quite some time. and that's quite frightening. >> suarez: well, for a time it looked like that big storm over the gulf of mexico was heading for that area that we saw on the map of texas with all those fire little symbols on it. did texas get any freezing rain that tropical storm? that smacked louisiana? >> i think there may have been a few drops in houston, but really that tropical storm was a big tease for us here in texas. it sent us no moisture and a lot of wind which kicked up the fires this weekend and thankfully those winds are now calming down. but there's very low humidity right now which contributes to the fire hazard that is ongoing. >> suarez: does it name fire and its essential path more unpredictable, this lack of mis sdmur what have people fighting it been telling you about the challenges involved? >> well, i think it's... these
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high winds make it very heart to contain a fire, to fight a fire, and that's what these firefighters have been dealing with. i saw a group of men the other day who were clearly coming off a long shift and they look... you know, they look exhausted but they also looked resolute. and so, you know, i think it's very... this fire is three or four days old and only 30% contained. that kind of tells you a lot. >> suarez: it looks like from the maps from the texas state forest service that the fire zone starts just north of houston and runs, well, all the way to the border with arkansas. it must really complicate things to have such a large part of the state involved. >> right. well, i mean, 251, i believe, of 254 texas counties are under burn bans right now. this drought is,... again, it's the most intense drought we've ever had.
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and so a fire can really start just about anywhere, in a city or some of the big rural areas. and complicating matters, sometimes the stock ponds that firefighters use to combat some of the rural fires are drying up because of the drought. so in some places it's difficult to get water. >> suarez: kate galbraith from the texas tribune, thanks for joining us. >> thanks for having me. >> ifill: now, another in a series of reports on our post- 9/11 world. this one focuses on efforts to prevent another domestic attack and the effect that has had on americans' civil liberties. npr and the center for investigative reporting have been looking into that issue. the reporter is n.p.r.'s daniel zwerdling. >> reporter: you're looking at the front line of americas war on terror. the mall of america, near minneapolis, one of the biggest malls in the country. the mall has created its own
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private counter terrorism unit. they wear plain clothes. they look out for what they call, suspicious persons. and here's one of them. >> my name is brad kleinerman. i live in avon, connecticut, and i'm a human resources director for cigna healthcare. >> reporter: kleinerman had to visit minneapolis three years ago, and he dropped by the mall to buy his youngest son a watch. >> a man approached me and introduced himself as being from mall of america security. >> reporter: it turns out they'd been tailing him for ten minutes. they called in other security guards and began interrogating him. >> what i had been doing; why i was in minnesota; where i was from. >> reporter: the guards told kleinerman it was just an interview. >> and i said, "no, thank you," and started to walk away. and he said, "excuse me sir, you can participate in the interview or i will have to call the police." i began to feel like a criminal. >> reporter: especially when they wrote down his birth date. height. hair color. >> it was just horrible to sit there for the 40 minutes, talking with them, getting no answers as to why i was there,
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and to this day still don't really have answers as to why they stopped me. >> hi, i'm janet napolitano, secretary of homeland security. homeland security begins with home town security. >> reporter: in the wake of 9- 11, the nation's leaders have created voluntary programs with names like, see something, say something. and, the nationwide suspicious activity reporting initiative. john cohen helps run the counter-terrorism programs at the department of homeland security. >> so what do we know? we know that domestic and foreign terrorist organizations have an interest in carrying out attacks in this country, targeting locations where large numbers of people congregate. that includes hotels, sports stadiums, mass transit systems, and even shopping malls. >> we all share the responsibility to fight terror and criminal misconduct. >> reporter: the mall of america launched its program to help spot terrorists, five years ago. their program gets widely cited as a model.
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maureen bausch is vice president of the mall. >> well i think our name, first of all, mall of america, is attractive to people that want to hurt america. the government officials have asked us always, since 9/11, to be on the watch. >> reporter: we wanted to know, exactly who is watching across the country? npr and the center for investigative reporting asked more than 20 communities to show us suspicious activity reports from their areas. only one city agreed: officials in bloomington minnesota sent us reports from the mall of america. and who did the mall find suspicious? people like brad kleinerman. we got this 15-page report about him from the bloomington police department. >> i was dumbfounded that this report existed. >> reporter: the mall's guards wrote that kleinerman walked nervously through the mall. they said he looked at two of them closely, which was very odd. he had a defensive body posture.
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their conclusion: kleinerman is a suspicious person. >> i don't think i'm a suspicious person. >> reporter: a mall official told us they question roughly a thousand suspicious people every year, and report at least 100 of them to the police. >> if somebody stopped for shopping at the mall ends up in a police database as a suspicious person, i think that's wrong. >> i'm not real sure i'd go to the mall. i mean, they might accuse me of being a terrorist. >> reporter: dale watson used to run the counter-terrorism program at the f.b.i. during the bush administration. >> it seems like we've moved from reasonable suspicion to, let's look at everything. i mean, if somebody's buying ammonia nitrate out in pennsylvania, in a rural place in a rental truck and the owner's never seen him before, putting it in plastic barrels, i'd say, yeah. that's a suspicious activity that should be reported. >> reporter: but many reports from the mall of america target seemingly ordinary behavior. for instance, the guards
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reported one man to police because he was writing things down on a note pad. and might be conducting surveillance. turns out he was a musician waiting for a friend. they reported another man because he wore a backpack, and walked with one hand inside his back pocket. and take what happened to najam qureshi and his wife, huma yusuf. they're citizens; americans of pakistani descent who live outside minneapolis. one morning in january 2007 they had a surprise visitor. >> okay, so the doorbell rings, and my husband's taking a shower and there's this guy, with a badge. and says i work for the fbi and you know i was like really. >> and i could see a big, thick folder in his hand with my name on it, so i'm like. what is it all about, and he basically says oh it's nothing, we're just following up on a story, then you know the mall personnel told us about that your dad was in an incident. >> reporter: simply that a few weeks before, qureshi's father had accidentally left his cell
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phone in the mall of america's food court. >> he had forgotten his cell phone. i'm like, that's not a big deal. he's a 70-year-old man, i barely call that an incident, right? >> reporter: yet the mall's security unit sent an 11-page report about it to the police. documents show that in half the cases, the police send the mall's reports on to state and federal law enforcement. so now an f.b.i. agent was investigating qureshi himself. >> he asked me if i knew anybody in afghanistan, which i thought was hilarious. >> reporter: do you? >> no, i don't. >> he said, do you know anybody who was involved in terrorism activities? my reaction was, i mean, my reaction in my mind was how dare this guy in my house come and say this? >> reporter: executives at the f.b.i. and justice department wouldn't comment. the mall's executives wouldn't talk about qureshi or any specific case. >> you're talking to a handful of people, and it's very
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unfortunate that they did not have a good experience here. we're upset anyone doesn't have a good experience. unfortunately the world has changed, and we're doing the best we can to keep this building safe. >> i didn't talk to-- well, obviously, i didn't talk to this lady. but i think if you look at it from, certainly a law- enforcement perspective that i bring... i would say, the value of what i've seen here is absolutely not worth the effort. and it's certainly not worth the effort to have these individuals have some type of police record. >> reporter: back at homeland security, john cohen says the nationwide push to report suspicious activities is working. >> yes, it's definitely working. and it's working on several fronts. >> reporter: cohen says suspicious activity reports from places like the mall have already foiled attacks. he cites the attempted bombing in times square. >> where a suspicious activity report that went to the new york state fusion center by a triple a representative helped lead to the identification of the
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individual who tried to commit the times square bombing. >> reporter: but other specialists say, that report had nothing to do with preventing the bombing. it was pure luck that the bomb didn't go off. so i asked cohen, what's an example where programs like the mall of americas help avoid terrorist attacks? >> i'm not going to get into specific cases because some of that information is obviously classified and there's ongoing investigations, but there are a large number of reports that have come in. those reports are vetted, they're assessed, and there have been a number of investigations, literally hundreds of terrorism investigations that have been opened and concluded as a result of those activities. >> reporter: has the mall of america, or any other suspicious activity reporting system, caught a potential terrorist? >> not that i know of, not that i know of. >> reporter: and stopped a >> reporter: until last year, juliette kayyem was an assistant secretary of homeland security in the obama administration. she says, she hasn't heard cohen's success stories. >> reporter: as a trained intelligence person, you don't find this information valuable. >> not from what i can see.
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>> reporter: kayyem says, in theory, it's a great idea for businesses to report suspicious activities. but in the real world, the guards who do the reporting on the front lines are often not well trained. >> you have just a tremendous amount of information going into the intelligence sharing apparatus in the hopes that it will either come up with terrorism or suspicious activity or criminal activity. to ensure that you're going to connect the dots better, right? one clear way is to make sure the dots are better. there's too many dots right now. >> reporter: ever since the world trade towers came tumbling down, there's been a question mark over the war on terror: can the government track down and stop terrorists and preserve the heart of america's democracy? the administration says yes. >> the very reason why we
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the protections that are put in place through this program, by but with thousands of americans now in police databases for potentially innocent activity, dale watson says he's not so sure. >> i see a pattern here where american citizens are being suspected of something without any legal standards. >> reporter: over the decades, court decisions have spelled out when can a policeman search you? detain you? watson worries about where today's suspicious activity reporting could lead. >> to heck with the bill of rights and the constitution. let's just stop all this stuff, okay? so if i'm driving down the street, and i'm a police officer, if i want to stop you i'll just stop you. or if i see you wearing a red coat, maybe i think you're a communist in the old communist days, so i'll take you to jail and hold you for 24 hours. that is not what we are. >> reporter: najam qureshi wonders about that.
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>> it shattered an image of the u.s. that i had, fundamentally. growing up, you know, it was all my dad saying, you're protected in this country. and this would never happen in this country. >> ifill: daniel zwerdling's reporting on this subject continues tomorrow on npr's "morning edition." and tomorrow night, tom bearden reports on how life has changed for air travelers in the last decade. >> woodruff: the man tasked with preventing terrorist attacks on americans, whether at airports or in malls or elsewhere, is the president's chief counter terrorism advisor, john brennan. at the white house earlier today, i talked with him about that, about al qaeda post-bin laden and about the face of terrorism now. john brennan, thank you very much for talking with us. >> thank you for inviting me here. >> woodruff: i want to start by asking you about a report we're
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airing on the newshour about the heightened security in this country post-9/11 in public places that may be putting americans' civil liberties at risk. what is your sense of the... of whether this country has struck the right balance between more security and civil liberties? >> well, i think the president's made very clear that one of the real tenets of his policy is that we respect, recognize the civil liberties of every american person. and so what he has made very clear to me as well as to others within the c.t.-- counterterrorism community-- that we need to do our job as best we can, but we also have to make sure we recognize the limits of the law and also that american citizens and persons have these rights and liberties that we need to respect. so this has been a balancing act over the past decade. i think we've struck the right balance. >> woodruff: are there instances specific examples, of where this
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additional security here in this country has either prevented or in some way led to... prevented an attack or led to the arrest or capture of somebody who was planning to do something? >> well, we had a recent example of an individual in texas who was planning to carry out an attack against fort hood personnel who was disgruntled within the military, nasser abdo was his name. it was because of the vigilance of a store clerk who was concerned about what that that individual was attempting to purchase who brought it to the attention of authorities that then resulted in the authorities investigating and finding that this individual had put together the ingredients for improvised explosive devices. so rather than, you know, security, it's vigilance is what we want and that's why secretary of napolitano from department of homeland security as made such a point about the "see something; say something" campaign. it doesn't mean you spy on your neighbors.
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it just means we recognize and that al qaeda and other terrorist groups are trying to carry out attacks in the homeland here. so that it's the intention that, you know, we have american citizens helping to protect this nation by bringing to the authorities any types of events, developments, incidents that they think indicate that there might be some terrorist activities at play here. >> woodruff: let me ask you the basic question: is the united states safer today than it was on september 11, 2001? >> i think without a doubt. this country now has become a much more difficult operational environment for al qaeda and other terrorist groups. the measures have been put in place that w better integration of intelligence and law enforcement and homeland security capabilities over the last decade. the proactive efforts that we've made overseas to put the terrorists back on their heels, we've taken off the battlefield many, many senior al qaeda and other operational commanders. so both from the threat side as well as from the vulnerability
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side, the advances that we've made over the past decade have been just very, very impressive across the board. we also worked very closely with our international partners. this is not just something the united states alone can address. so we have developed and enhanced our relationships with many different partner services overseas, building their capacity so they can do what they need do to prevent those terrorists from coming here to the homeland. is. >> woodruff: last week on the newshour we interviewed the two former chairs of the 9/11 commission, tom kean and lee hamilton. they agree the united states is undoubtedly safer than it was on 9/11 but they also said that they think it's inevidentble that there will be another successful terrorist attack close to the scale if not on the scale. >> i don't say that another attack is inevitable. i like to think that everyday we're going to try to uncover any type of terrorist activity that's out there and take the steps to thwart any type of planning that might result in an
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attempted attack. but inevitability is not something i ascribe to. >> woodruff: one of the things they sited was the aviation screening system in this country. i mean, for example, they said that our detection... whatever we have in this country right now in the way of detection devices is not yet at the capability of what the terrorists can do in terms of hiding a bomb. >> well, clearly the terrorists have been very innovative and inventive as far as improvised explosive devices, miniaturizing them, concealing them in different types of items. we try to stay ahead of that. we have our own research and development efforts on the technology front to be able to better detect, to thwart, to disrupt these types of efforts. so this is going to be a very dynamic environment, both the terrorists trying to adapt to us and we're trying to stay ahead of them. and i think we have done a pretty good job in terms of the technology that we've brought to bear, the behavioral specialists we've been able to bring to bear
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so we can detect people's behavior that is indicative that they might be up to something. so it's a combination of things. it's not a silver bullet throughout that's going to make us safe. what we're trying to do is to have technologies, people, redundant security measures that allow us... to optimize our chances of stopping an attack. >> woodruff: but they expressed particular concern about the screening system that they say is just not up to the level that it needs to be to detect what the terrorists are capable of doing. >> i think we always have to strive to be better and if that's what they're saying, yes, i agree with them. what we need to do is to continue to advance our knowledge of i.e.d. technologies and create types of applications that the terrorists are looking at right now. we are trying to make sure it's intelligence-based so as we get information about the types of mechanisms that the terrorists might be trying to use we are adapting our procedures accordingly. >> woodruff: they also site the growing problem of the lone wolf
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and self-radicalization in this country. is that as great a worry now as is that of organized the terrorism? >> i think... the president has said the lone actor, the individual that is out there that might to decide to carry out an attack either with an i.e.d. or a weapon or a gun, these are... this is a concern of ours. and it's sometimes more difficult to detect because an individual can do this on their known their house and plot and plan and scheme and acquire materials and then just one day decide to get up and carry out an attack. we had an instance yesterday in carson city, nevada, where someone decided to open up with an automatic weapon and, of course, they killed several individuals. it looks as though the individual was mentally unstable but this is the type of thing's difficult to guard against and that's why the "see something; say something" campaign, the effort to say, you know, this person is acting differently or it looks as though they're up to no good, this will give the authorities the opportunity to check something out.
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>> woodruff: al qaeda. is there reason to believe that they are planning a... a credible reason to believe they're planning an anniversary attack of some sort? i ask because of this f.b.i. bulletin that went out last weekend about the threat of small airplanes. >> well, we know from the material that was recovered from the bin laden compound that bin laden was looking at the tenth anniversary of 9/11 as an opportunity to strike yet again at the u.s. homeland. our intelligence agencies and law enforcement agencies have been very, very diligent in looking at all the different potential actors out there. we are... feel that we're on top of it right now. we know that al qaeda wants to try to hit us here in the homeland again. they have been thwarted numerous times. it's not just al qaeda. there are other groups that are... have taken up the mantle of al qaeda. so we are on our vigilance and we have preparations in anticipation othe 9/11 anniversary but it's not going to stop on 9/11 anniversary,
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we're going to maintain this vigilance and continue to do everything possible to protect the american people. >> woodruff: is there clear evidence now that the death of osama bin laden clearly set al qaeda back? >> i think it... bin laden's death as well as the death of other senior operational commanders, kashmiri, who was responsible for putting together plans to attack europe and the united states, another man, there's the... the arrest the pakistanis carried out recently of younis martini, these were people determined to carry out interests. taking them off the battlefield, capturing them, their deaths have set al qaeda core. the senior leadership in al qaeda and pakistan back significantly. >> woodruff: how do you characterize right now the strength of al qaeda? we heard secretary panetta say the summer that the u.s. was in... was within reach of
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strategically defeating al qaeda. is that realistic and what would that look like? >> well, you have al qaeda core which is the senior leadership? the areas of pakistan which has taken it on the chin significantly as a result of our pakistani efforts. that has been degraded significantly over the past couple of years. but you have other al qaeda elements, al qaeda in the arabian peninsula which is mainly in yemen now. you have al qaeda in maghreb which is in africa. al qaeda in iraq. and so these franchises are active. they're carrying out attacks against locals, the yemenis, the iraqis and others. and also there are elements that are trying to carry out attacks against us, american interests from those countries as well as to try to do things in the homeland here. so those franchises are active and we have al qaeda core on the ropes but that doesn't mean these other elements are not able and determined to carry on an attack. and, you know, yes, we are concerned about what they might try to do. >> woodruff: it didn't sound like that's within reach. strategic... the strategic
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defeat. >> the phenomenon of terrorism that al qaeda manifests and represents, i think is going to be a many-year effort. so we cannot relent, we cannot we have been the death of bin laden and if we get ayman al-zawahiri and others, it's not reason for us to relax. there is a core of these extremists that have this distorted concept of islam and are determined to carry out attacks in the name of islam. they're murderers and we need to do everything possible to eliminate the threat they pose to us but work with countries overseas to make sure they build institutions as well as provide for their people opportunities that will make the terrorists ideology blatantly bankrupt. >> woodruff: john brennan assistant to the president. thank you very much for talking with us. >> thank you, judy.
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>> ifill: finally tonight, a supernova burns bright in the night sky. jeffrey brown has the story. >> brown: in a galaxy not so far away, at least in astronomical terms, the death of a star has created a bright light in the sky. when scientists looked at the pinwheel galaxy, about 21 million light years away on august 22, all looked normal. but over the next two days, a light emerged. it was a supernova, one of the brightest and closest to us in decades. and, weather permitting, you can see it this week from your own backyard. peter nugent of the lawrence- berkeley national lab discovered the supernova and joins us now. well, welcome to you. so, we're seeing this now but it happened rather a long time ago, in fact, right? >> yes, when something is 21 million light years away, that means it's taken 21 million years for that light to get to us. so it has been a long, long time ago in a galaxy far away. >> brown: and what is "it."
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remind us of what a supernova is. >> so the supernova that we're looking at here is the death of a star. supernova comes in all varieties and shape from stars that blow up that are ten, 100 times bigger than our son, but in one actually is a star called a carbon oxygen white dwarf which is about the size of the planet earth. >> brown: and what, they this one so remarkable? >> well, this supernova is incredible because we caught it so early and it's going to get so bright that astronomers will be able to use almost any of the telescopes on any of the major observatorys in the world to look at it. this supernova is also one of the supernova that we use to measure distances to other galaxies. so in that sense we'll have another way of checking out how the universe is accelerating. >> brown: i want to come back to that second thought, but in terms of finding it, how exactly does one find a supernova? this is something you're always
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on the lookout for? >> so so, yes. the collaboration belonged to the palomar transyen factory takes digital images every night that's clear outside of san diego. about 600 square degrees of sky. to give you an idea, the moon is only about a half square degree in size. and we subtract these images that we take each night from images that we've taken weeks, months, or even years before and we look for things that go bump. it's a very difficult process involving a lot of computeers to subtract the data and then also tell us which ones are the most sbre interesting types of transient astrophysical objects to look at. >> brown: now, i gather another thing that makes this interesting is that you've got in the your sites at a point just hours after it exploded, right? explain that. >> yes. so the observations that we had taken the night before had shown nothing there at all to a level about 10,000 times fainter than
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the human eye can see. and then it increased in brightness the next night by well over a factor of 100. so we knew we had caught it the at least within a 24-hour period and it now looks like we caught it just several hours after it exploded. >> brown: so now that we know that, come back to this thought you raised before about explaining the scientific value of something like this. what exactly is it that this is useful for in understanding about the universe? >> so type 1a supernova are unique in that they're a gazillion watt light bull than we all know how bright it is to a small percent. so by looking and studying these supernova, we can actually measure the distance by recording how much light we receive at the telescope and then remembering the fact that that light drops off like the square of the distance. and so supernova that are this bright-- and, by the way, this
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supernova is going to be as bright as all the stars combined in the pinwheel galaxy when it reaches peak brightness-- we can see these not 21 million light years away but eight billion light years away. so we can see them very shortly after the universe is created and then we can measure how the distances to objects have changed over that time. >> brown: now, you've guessed... i hope you've piqued people's interest and talked about the brightness here. how exactly and when and where do p.m.c. it? >> so this supernova is going to be one of the brightest supernova in the last 40 years save for 87-a which was in the southern hemisphere. so this is a real treat for us in the northern hemisphere. it's going to reach what we call tenth magnitude in astronomical terms, which is about one one hundredth as faint as the human eye can see. but reachable with binoculars. a good pair like 20 x 80 or 25 x 100s or a small telescope, a six
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to eight-inch telescope. the best time to look for it is shortly after it peaks which is this weekend. it will still stay relatively bright for a couple weeks, but the full moon occurs on september 12. so if we wait until just till after that, the moon will arise later and later in the evening and just after sunset the big dipper will be at its highest point. so that's when the skies will be the darkest and the supernova will be at its most easily accessible point in the sky to see. >> brown: a good pair of binoculars, we don't need your telescope or the hubble at home, right? >> no, no. just the simple six-inch telescope or very good pair of buy knack lars and you should be able to spot it easily. >> brown: all right peter nugent of the lawrence berkeley national lab, thanks so much. >> thank you for having me. >> woodruff: again, the major developments of the day: president obama worked on his plan to spur job growth, amid reports it will have a $300 billion price tag.
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democrats offered initial support, while republicans signaled they would balk at new spending. wall street shot back up after a german court upheld germany's role in bailing out other countries. the dow jones industrial average gained more than 275 points. and at least 43 people died when a russian passenger jet crashed, 150 miles northeast of moscow. most of the victims were members of a championship hockey team. and there's more about the tenth anniversary of the terror attacks online. hari sreenivasan has the details. hari? >> sreenivasan: explore data and more from the center for investigative reporting on homeland security in a post-9/11 world. find those resources on the rundown blog. and jeff talks to paul goldberger, architecture critic for the new yorker, about the building of the 9/11 memorial at the site of the world trade center. goldberger is part of tonight's nova documentary called "engineering ground zero." check local listings for air times.
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plus, on this week's political checklist, david chalian and gwen assess the stakes for president obama's jobs speech tomorrow. that's on our politics page. all that and more is on our web site: newshour.pbs.org. gwen? >> ifill: and that's the "newshour" for tonight. on thursday, we'll look at president obama's jobs creation plan, which he will announce to a joint session of congress. i'm gwen ifill. >> woodruff: and i'm judy woodruff. we'll see you online and again here tomorrow evening. thank you and good night. major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: this program was made possible
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by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org
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